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If you need emergency assistance in a flood event,
call 000 or the SES immediately.

How is a flood defined?

The definition of a flood in Australia is the covering of dry areas by water escaping from a natural watercourse such as a lake, river or creek, or an artificial body of water like a reservoir, canal or dam.1

In 2012, the Australian Government established a standard definition of floods for specific insurance policies (including home and contents insurance). All home and contents insurers use this definition in their Product Disclosure Statements (PDS) if they cover flood damage.

Is flooding covered by insurance?

Flood cover can either be a standard inclusion in home and contents insurance or added as an optional extra to your policy. With flood insurance, you can be covered for losses and damages to your property or contents caused by flooding.

The definition of what is considered a ‘flood’ is the same for all insurers. However, properties in certain areas may be deemed uninsurable for flood damage due to a high risk of flooding.

Where flood insurance is not part of your policy, you may still find that you can be covered for damages caused by storm and rainwater. However, not all insurers will consider rainfall runoff as part of flood cover as it may lie under storm damage cover instead. Make sure you check the PDS for a complete rundown of cover provided by your policy.

Other types of water damage, such as inundation after heavy rains or burst pipes, are usually not considered a flood but may be covered anyway under a different type of event listed in the policy (e.g. escaped liquid). This is why it’s vital to review the PDS so you understand what your policy covers.

When comparing home and contents insurance with Compare the Market’s free comparison service, you’ll be able to see which policies include flood insurance when comparing results.

Man on phone with flood insurance

How to add flood cover to your home and contents insurance

If flood insurance isn’t an automatic inclusion in your home and contents insurance, you may need to add it as an optional extra by managing your policy online or contacting your insurer. However, this does mean there may be an increase to the price you pay for insurance.

You might find that a condition of flood cover is that you won’t be able to claim for it for a period of time (usually the first 72 hours after purchasing). So, if you take out cover while a storm is brewing and a flood warning is active, you might find that your insurer won’t accept any subsequent claims you make. The incident occurred within what is referred to as the exclusion period.

What flood insurance covers

Flood insurance can cover your home and belongings for damage and loss caused by flood events. The inclusions and exclusions shown below will give you an idea of how flood insurance and cover for other related events can protect your home and belongings through a home or contents insurance policy.

These benefits are a guide and are subject to the policy’s terms and conditions. As always, be sure to thoroughly check a policy’s PDS and Target Market Determination (TMD) before purchasing cover.

Home insurance with flood cover

Loss or damage to your building (home) resulting from:

  • Floods (water that escapes from the natural confinements of certain types of bodies of water)
  • Rainwater run-off

Loss or damage caused by actions of the sea (e.g. tsunamis, high tides, sea level rises)

Contents insurance with flood cover

Loss or damage to your belongings caused by:

  • Landslides
  • Mudslides
  • Subsidence
  • Soil movements.

These events are covered if the damage was caused directly by or happened immediately after floods (usually within a 72-hour timeframe of the event occurring).

Loss or damage caused by:

  • Water that entered your home because of renovations
  • Underground water seepage or pressure
  • Hydrostatic pressure
  • Soil movements that didn’t occur immediately after a flood or rainwater run-off.

Loss or damage to:

  • Retaining walls
  • Fences and gates that aren’t structurally sound
  • Gardens, driveways, paths and pavers
  • Swimming pools or spas
  • Jetties and pontoons.

You should also check the limits of your cover – in other words, how much your insurer may pay you for losses or damages caused by flood events. If you find that the potential payout won’t be enough to repair, replace or rebuild your home and possessions (known as underinsurance), you may need to consider increasing the amount you’re insured for, which is your sum insured.

Happy at home with flood insurance

How do I know if I live in a flood zone?

Before you purchase home and contents insurance, it’s a good idea to find out whether your property is in a flood risk zone. Living in a flood zone can affect your insurance premiums, or the home could potentially be ineligible for flood cover because of the increased risk.

You can find out about flood information and zones in your area by contacting your local council or accessing online flood maps Flood maps will show you high-risk zones as well as historical flooding in your area.

Frequently asked questions

How can I find out whether I’m covered for a flood?

Many insurers don’t include flood insurance as a standard part of a home and contents policy; instead, they may offer it as optional cover. To find out if you’re covered for a flood, check your policy’s PDS to see if it’s listed as an inclusion or benefit.

Remember that flood risk can be reflected in the cost of your home and contents premium. For example, if you own a home in a flood-prone area, you will typically pay a higher premium than homeowners outside of a flood-prone area, or you may even be excluded from flood cover altogether.

Why is flood insurance for my home and possessions important?

Even a small flood can cause serious damage to a building This means repairs to parts of the house or replacing some of your home’s contents may still be necessary and could cost you considerably, especially if you live in a suburb that’s flooded in the past.

It’s smart to ensure you have flood cover as a part of your home and contents policy.

If you’re considering a new home and contents insurance policy or reviewing your existing level of cover, you should ask your insurer the following question:

  • How is my house rated for flooding?
  • Does my existing policy cover flood? Are there any exclusions or restrictions to be mindful of?
  • If my policy doesn’t include flood cover, could I add it to my insurance and how much would it cost?

When should I get flood insurance?

You should get flood insurance when you take out a home and contents insurance policy, whether it’s an automatic inclusion or an optional extra. Don’t wait until a flood is imminent to get flood cover, as you’ll likely have to wait a period of clearance (usually around 72 hours) before you can be covered for any flood damage claim.

How do flood insurance claims work?

Once you and all household members are safe and there’s no immediate danger, contact your insurance provider and report what has happened. You should document and record as much damage to your property and belongings as you can by taking photos or videos to provide to your insurer.

Don’t discard any of your damaged items, as your insurer may want to see these items as part of their assessment of your claim – they’ll organise someone to come to your property to assess the damage and organise repairs.

Does my property require flood insurance?

Floods can happen in unexpected locations and rather quickly, sometimes even within minutes of heavy rainfall or a dam, levee, or river break. That’s why investing in a home and contents policy with flood cover to protect against unexpected flooding is a safe bet.

How much does flood insurance cost?

Your premiums for flood cover (whether included in your home insurance policy or added as an optional extra) will be largely determined by:

  • The risk of flooding or water damage at your property
  • The expected depth of flooding relative to your building
  • Expected costs for repairs, replacements or recovery
  • Your sum insured, excess amount and level of cover.

Can renters and tenants get flood insurance?

If you’re a renter, you can get flood cover as part of your contents insurance (sometimes called renters insurance). This can financially protect you from losses or damage to your belongings caused by floods. Your landlord is responsible for insuring your building against flood damage.

Do flood mitigation measures help make flood insurance more affordable?

Flood mitigation measures put in place by local and state governments may help reduce the cost of flood cover by minimising the risk of flood waters damaging properties. This can differ between insurers. Please check your PDS to see if flood damage is included in your policy.

Adrian Taylor, General Manager of General Insurance

Tips to avoid flood and storm damage from our home and contents insurance expert, Adrian Taylor

  1. When buying a property and getting a building inspection, make sure that any previous flood damage is reported, even if repairs were made to the building.
  2. Clean out the gutters and keep the roof of your home maintained, as this can reduce the likelihood of storm damage claims.
  3. Many insurers send storm warnings via SMS. You can also get storm warnings through the Bureau of Meteorology’s BOM Weather app.
  4. Make sure you have a flood plan and have an emergency kit, especially if you live in an area that is susceptible to flooding.


1 Flood insurance explained. The Insurance Council of Australia. 2021.

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